Golriz Ghahraman shoplifting allegations: A look back at a shining political career left in tatters

Today's resignation by Golriz Ghahraman has left what was once a shining political career in tatters.

She was an international human rights lawyer and the first former refugee elected to Parliament. Now, she's out.

From political asylum seeker to political up-and-comer, Ghahraman's star was on the rise.

The first former refugee elected to Parliament, she said in her maiden speech: "I fight for equality and justice, because that is what love looks like in public."

Fighting for those without a voice, she won voting rights for prisoners and called out international human rights abuses.

But it hasn't been an easy path.

"Mr Speaker, some of them call for rifles to be loaded. It gets frightening," she said in her maiden speech.

Speaking on Tuesday after Ghahraman's resignation, Green Party co-leader James Shaw said she has been subjected to "pretty much continuous threats of sexual violence, physical violence, death threats since the day she was elected to Parliament".

Then there were the health issues.

"About 18 months ago I was diagnosed with MS - multiple sclerosis. I thought it was time I started to talk about that," Ghahraman revealed to The Project in 2020.

Once a voice for justice, now Ghahraman is in trouble with the law after allegations emerged she had shoplifted from Scotties in the Auckland suburb of Ponsonby on December 23.

Two more accusations have since emerged - including a second alleged incident at Scotties and a third at Wellington store Cre8iveworx.

Police told Newshub "our investigations remain ongoing at this time".

"It is clear to us that Ms Ghahraman is in a state of extreme distress. She has taken responsibility and she has apologised. We support the decision that she has made to resign," Shaw explained on Tuesday.

However, she's not the only one facing a loss.

"Retail crime is committed by anyone. You can't put a face on it and say that's what retail crime looks like," Retail NZ CEO Carolyn Young said.

With COVID-19, the cost-of-living crisis, retailers are doing it tough.

"Ninety-two percent of our retailers are telling us they've experienced theft in the past 12 months and the total cost of retail crime is $2.6 billion a year," Young said.

Ghahraman has cited extreme workplace stress for her out-of-character behaviour, making her the latest in a growing number of MPs openly sharing their mental health struggles.

These revelations raise further questions about the toll the job takes - especially for those who are the target of threats and abuse.

Former Justice Minister Kiri Allan was the MP who most recently faced criminal charges. She resigned her seat following a car crash - later talking about her experience of extreme mental distress during that time.

Gharahraman too will be held accountable.

"Having a mental illness or mental distress does not excuse you for criminal action," Mental Health Foundation CEO Shaun Robinson said.

But she also needs support.

"Anybody who was in that situation where they were being threatened and abused like that, it would affect their mental health. There's just absolutely no doubt about that," Robinson said.

It's a devastating end to her career as an MP.

"In this case, we've got an MP who has clearly paid a high price for slipping up. And there will be continued questions about the culture in Parliament, in the Green Party," said Dr Bryce Edwards, the political analyst in residence at Victoria University of Wellington.

It's yet another blow for the Greens.

"The Green Party now has had two MPs who have suffered downfalls from their issues of integrity. The Green Party themselves are under huge pressure at the moment," Dr Edwards said.

Now is a time for reflection for all political parties.

"There's going to be raised questions about whether some demographics are getting more scrutiny than others and whether that plays a part in explanation for what's gone on here. Others will see that as a cop-out," Edwards added.

Ghahraman will find a future beyond politics - but for now, some time away from the public eye.